MONDAY, 2:09pm: The Pistons followed up with a formal announcement today, via press release.
“I have said from day one that we have great respect for Greg as a person and like what he brings to this team as a player,” Van Gundy said in the team’s statement. “We have had good dialogue with Greg throughout the offseason with the understanding that there were multiple options for both parties involved, and we respect his decision. We look forward to a great year from Greg as we continue to build our team moving forward.”
FRIDAY, 8:29pm: Monroe actually signed the qualifying offer on Wednesday, but the news simply hadn’t broken before today, tweets Eric Pincus of Basketball Insiders.
5:25pm: Greg Monroe has signed the one-year qualifying offer Detroit extended in June, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports. The big man will play for close to $5.48MM in 2014/15, and become an unrestricted agent next summer. The decision is historic, as Monroe will become the biggest name to have signed a qualifying offer, one of just 18 players ever to do so.
Wojnarowski tweets that the Pistons and Monroe were unable to reach an agreement on a new long-term deal, although it’s unclear if there were any renewed negotiations since Monroe initially signaled his plans of signing the offer. Monroe denied a report that the Pistons had offered a deal worth five years and $60MM, one that was reportedly upped to a more lucrative offer by Detroit in early August. Regardless of what deal was on the table for the fifth-year big, the one-year pact will pay him well below the annual salary he would have fetched from Detroit or any other team on a long-term deal. While the contract is still a raise from what he earned on the final year of his rookie contract, he is taking it with eyes toward a much more lucrative deal next offseason. Monroe immediately becomes one of the more attractive free agents in the 2015 class.
At some point, Monroe apparently soured on the team that drafted him No. 7 in the 2010 draft. Monroe “wanted out” of Detroit, according to Wojnarowski, who adds that the Pistons were unwilling to pay him as a top NBA forward. Rather than pursuing offer sheets from other teams that the Pistons could match, he was seeking sign-and-trade agreements that would land him in a new city. However, Monroe was never dead set against remaining a Piston, and saw new coach and president Stan Van Gundy as a positive presence. Monroe’s wariness of a long-term future in Detroit may have stemmed from the team’s decision to sign Josh Smith to play alongside Monroe and Andre Drummond before the 2013/14 season. The ultra-big experiment was a disaster on the court, and Monroe was reportedly cool to Van Gundy’s optimism that the three bigs could coexist within a winning system.
When our own Chuck Myron ranked Monroe No. 5 in the Hoops Rumors Free Agent Power Rankings for the year, the possibility that Monroe wouldn’t sign a long-term contract this summer seemed faint. In fact, Chuck found it likely that Monroe would agree to a max deal in his Free Agent Stock Watch piece for the 24-year-old, a much more predictable outcome for such a young and productive interior player.
The qualifying offer, which a team must extend in order to preserve the right to match other offers for a restricted free agent, is typically a placeholder until the player signs an offer sheet elsewhere or comes to a separate agreement with his incumbent team. It is rare for a player to re-sign with a team after playing out the single year on an accepted qualifying offer. Spencer Hawes did so when he inked a two-year deal with the Sixers in 2012 after taking their qualifying offer the year before, but he’s the only one, and Monroe doesn’t appear poised to follow in his footsteps. As Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News points out (on Twitter), Monroe can only be traded to a team of his choosing this season, a factor that would limit any attempt of Detroit’s to deal him away for value before losing him for nothing in unrestricted free agency next summer. The Thunder, Pelicans, Hawks, Cavs, Blazers, and Magic have all been connected to Monroe, but like Eric Bledsoe‘s situation in Phoenix, Detroit’s willingness to match offer sheets iced his prospects with clubs around the league. Wojnarowski writes that Detroit sought multiple sign-and-trade options for Monroe, most notably serious discussions with Portland.
The David Falk client has career averages of 14.0 PPG and 9.0 RPG, and has been the starting center or power forward for Detroit in 277 of 312 games in his four years with the team. The signing will leave the Pistons with approximately $13.3MM in cap space for the season, though it gives them 16 fully guaranteed deals, as our roster counts show.
Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images.